Donald Trump suffered a rare defeat Wednesday when the World Golf Championships event held at a course he owns in Doral was moved to Mexico City. The PGA Tour announced it was ending a 54-year relationship with South Florida's Doral Country Club, which Trump bought in 2012 and spent $250 million renovating, because it could not find a sponsor to replace Cadillac, whose contract ran out this year.
The tournament is expected to be played at Club de Golf Chapultepec in Mexico City and be renamed the Mexico Championship after the tour reached a seven-year agreement with Grupo Salinas, a collection of Mexico City-based companies overseen by billionaire tycoon Ricardo Salinas and his son Benjamin.
Tour commissioner Tim Finchem said the move was motivated by Cadillac's decision not to renew its title sponsorship and the tour's inability to find a sponsor that would keep the event in the Miami area.
He said it had nothing to do with the politics of Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee whose statements about Muslims, Mexicans and women have had a polarizing effect on people. The tour was prompted in December to release a statement in response to Trump's rhetoric, denouncing his comments as inconsistent with the sport's commitment to creating an inclusive environment.
Finchem later allowed that the Trump brand, built on his real estate dealings and aggrandized by his reality TV shows and other entrepreneurial forays, presented a problem for would-be sponsors. "It's just a struggle to get a customer to spend those kinds of dollars and share the billing," Finchem said at a news conference preceding this week's Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio, which begins today. "So I think actually the difficulty there is more that and less the politics. And (Trump) knows that."
Rory McIlroy, who is playing at the Memorial, did not sound bothered by the event's relocation. In 2015-16, three of the four World Golf Championships events are in the United States. The fourth is in China.
"I always felt that having three of them in the United States wasn't really spreading the game," said McIlroy, who poked fun at the event being moved to Mexico, where Trump has promised to build a wall to keep people from entering the United States illegally: "It's quite ironic that we're going to Mexico. … We just jump over the wall."